Saturday June 10, 2023

The way to the top

By Editorial Board
May 17, 2022

Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous. This is what the great Italian mountaineer, explorer and author, Reinhold Messner, once said. Over the years, hundreds of climbers learn this the hard way – often losing their lives while trying to scale mighty peaks. But the fact that mountaineering is perilous doesn’t keep hundreds of climbers from attempting to summit one peak after the other. This is what many Pakistani climbers have been doing for the past many years. Iconic photographs of Pakistani mountaineers like Sirbaz Khan and Shehroze Kashif raising the Pakistani flag at Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga or Mount Lhotse have been bringing joy at a time when there isn’t much to cheer about on our sports front. The latest climber to join the growing list of achievers is Hunza’s Abdul Joshi who made headlines the other day after successfully scaling Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak at 8,848. An extraordinarily gifted climber, Joshi has become the eighth Pakistani to conquer the mighty Everest. Before him, Nazir Sabir, Abdul Jabbar Bhatti, Hassan Sadpara, Mirza Ali Baig, Samina Baig, Shehroze Kashif and Sirbaz Ali Khan have also achieved this cherished feat.

Joshi’s accomplishment once again puts a spotlight on the growing pile of remarkable achievements by our mountaineers. Just recently, Sirbaz Khan became the first Pakistani climber to scale 10 of the world’s 14 highest peaks. The latest eight-thousander conquered by Hunza’s Sirbaz was the Kanchenjunga in Nepal. Sirbaz is the first Pakistani to summit Mount Lhotse, the world’s fourth-highest, without the use of supplementary oxygen. He has conquered Nanga Parbat in 2017, K-2 in 2018 and Broad Peak. More recently, he scaled the Annapurna mountain, the Everest and Gasherbrum II. On several of his expeditions, Sirbaz was accompanied by the legendary Muhammad Ali Sadpara who lost his life last year while attempting to scale K-2 last year.

Sirbaz’s biggest target is to become the first Pakistani to scale all 14 eight-thousanders. It is an uphill task but Sirbaz seems determined to etch his name in the history books of mountaineering. Another climber making a name for himself is 20-year-old Shehroze Kashif who recently scaled Mount Lhotse to become the youngest climber to conquer the world’s top four peaks. This shows how a whole new generation of Pakistani climbers has been inspired to look at this region’s rich mountain wilderness as a challenge that can be taken on. These young climbers need to be encouraged, most of all by the state which needs to invest in a professional mountaineering school.